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Oral history interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975

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Creator:Dabney, Virginius, 1901-1995
Creator:Jordan, Daniel P.
Creator:Turpin, William H. (William Howard), 1929-
Creator:Southern Oral History Program
Title:Oral history interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975
Date:1975 July 31

Virginius Dabney chronicles his long career as a southern journalist from the 1920s to the 1970s. As the editor of the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, Dabney penned several articles about the social and political crises of the twentieth century, often with a decidedly regional outlook. He wrote a few books concerning southern liberalism and the regional culture of Virginians. These works earned him an invitation as a guest lecturer at Cambridge and Princeton in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Though Dabney discusses his career as a novelist and lecturer, the primary focus of the interview is on his opinions on race relations in post-1954 Virginia. While many Virginia politicians crafted ways to massively resist integrating public schools, he supported gradual public school desegregation. Dabney expresses his criticism of politicians, particularly Senator Harry Byrd Sr. and Jack Kilpatrick, who chose to close public schools rather than integrate them. To Dabney, school closings culminated in backward thinking and fewer economic opportunities for the state. Even though his opinions about massive resistance emerged in his editorials, the owners of the Times-Dispatch prevented him from a full expression of his ideas. Dabney further discusses the relationship between newspaper owners. He also recounts his connection to Virginia's aristocracy and his relational ties to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Steeped in this background, Dabney reacts adversely to criticism of the nation's founders. He disapproved of Gore Vidal's and Fawn Brodie's work on Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson, respectively. Of particular interest is Dabney's vociferous objection to historian Fawn Brodie's account of a romantic relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson.

The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the aggregation and enhancement of partner metadata.

Types:Transcripts | Sound recordings | Oral histories (document genres) | Text | Sound
Subjects:Dabney, Virginius, 1901-1995 | Press and politics--Virginia | Virginia--Politics and government | Virginia--Race relations | Education, Higher--Virginia | Newspaper editors--Virginia--Richmond | Authors | School integration--Massive resistance movement--Virginia | Virginia--Politics and government--1951- | African Americans--Civil rights--Virginia | United States, Virginia, Richmond, 37.5537575, -77.4602617
Collection:Oral Histories of the American South: The Civil Rights Movement
Institution:Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Contributors:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting the American South (Project)
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Forms part of Oral histories of the American South collection.

Persistent Link to Item:http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/A-0311-2/menu.html